Saturday, 31 July 2010

Project UFO: The Phillip J. Roth Files

''It's like being front row at a Dead concert''

Miniature mayhem aboard a craft smaller than the size of a pinhead. Not the Hellraiser (1987) variety but more like Lost In Space with Robin Givens doing a fine impersonation of Robot, and Lance Henriksen looking like Dr. Zachary Smith. Danger, danger ahead as ex F.B.I agent Dr. Richard Gaynes, as played by Henriksen, undertakes a fantastical voyage into the bloodstream of a terrorist. Next stop Raquel Welch’s brazier, to get to see the bigger picture. Yes indeed there are more than passing updated similarities between Antibody, and the Richard Fleischer Directed 1966 classic Fantastic Voyage.

Star Henriksen is a bomb disposal expert who is called upon to help save the day from a terrorist who has a coded detonator chip hidden within his own body, primed to cause a world threatening bomb to go off should he die. The only way to stop the threat is to undertake the exploratory journey into the unknown aboard the Helix, shrunk down to nano technology size and syringed into the terrorists blood stream.

This is no wild adventure ride at Disney Land but the concept is just as Goofy. With what appears to be a smaller than usual budget for a U.F.O production, the credibility stakes really do take a back seat upon this journey into the incredible. Robin Givens truly looks like she might have been better off going ten rounds with Mike Tyson, with the audience most likely stooling the corner for the special effects. Computer generated imagery is top notch and the saving grace for the movies basic entertainment value. The Helix craft is one of those must have collectables if ever it became available, and the appearance of the mighty skin tick creature at the movies climax is definitely worth scratching around for until the finale.

A minimalist starring roster includes Dr. Gaynes security agency buddy Otto, William Zabka, the bad boy bully from the original The Karate Kid (1984) movie , who pretty much gets to just hang around wishing he could get to wax on and wax off the Helix that he secretly must wish he had gotten to ride upon.

The clock ticks down in true last second to save the world fashion with Henriksen and crew fighting off white blood cells, and a bad case of reject furniture from the original series Star Trek. That’s acting Lance, but not as we know it !. Funny moments come with an elevator that is clearly not built to carry a stretcher, and has to be shot from different angles, along with a medical table that wobbles as much as its occupant who is critically wounded, and clearly not meant to be moved !. Unintentional giggles aside Antibody is silly Sci Fi Channel escapism that allows ninety minutes to slip by without offending anyone, other than perhaps those with a terminal case of bad movie-itous.

Movie Rating: 5/10
Review Paul Cooke / Source Region 1 NTSC DVD
Antibody (2002)
Director Christian McIntire
With Lance Henriksen, Robin Givens, William Zabka,
Gaston Pauls, Teodora Ivanova & Stella Ivanova

Friday, 16 July 2010

RamBoll Rampages On


‘‘We live in a society that dictates must have, not need’’

In an fairly innocuous little pocket of one small town a very big statement is about to be unleashed, and the world will pay attention to the shackled little man as Bill Williamson sets about his devastating Rampage !.
An angst ridden youth desensitised of the mundane trappings of daily routine, that brands us all in one way or another to unilateral conformity, unburdens his pent up frustrations in one violent day of absolute carnage upon his local community.
Twenty three year old Bill Williamson (Brendan Fletcher) still lives at home with his parents and is stuck in a dead end job at minimum wage, that neither affords him the freedom to live his own life nor enable him to further educate himself to escape the drudgery of small town suburbia. He loathes everything about the avarice of an apathetic society, fuelled by a furnace of ever depressing news and media ridden headlines of recession for the masses, yet more gluttony to those that feed off the same unfortunates who set them upon high.
Just like the flipped out Mr. Joe average, Michael Douglas in Joel Schumacher’s Falling Down (1993), the scene of snapping occurs in a fast food restaurant. Douglas’ character flipped in a faux burger bar clearly aping McDonalds and here in Rampage Brendan Fletcher’s protagonist clearly overdoses on the secret ingredients of the local equivalent chicken joint. It seems that the finger licking goodness can leave a ‘fowl’ taste and turn one of societies battery fed chickens into a feisty cock of the walk. Fed up of being hen pecked and primed to strut the sidewalks of small town suburbia, decked out in Teflon and armed to the teeth with weapons, like a freaked out version of Elmer Fudd during rabbit season. This sure aint no regular Looney Tune on a Rampage though, as Bill Williamson acts with purposeful intent, his day of requital against the system begins and ends in calculated brevity !.

Director Uwe Boll is on a roll with this style of insular characterisation, fuelled by the oppressive state that we inhabit, wound up and let loose upon the injustices of humanity. A dark laden cinder box, thrown a lit match and allowed to ignite with all the inglorious ramifications of a pent up people thrown upon the scrap heap of a cruel world. Just like Tunnel Rats (2008) and Seed (2007) preceding this, Director Boll shows he has a real ability to deliver a solid movie. Unforgiving in realism and unapologetic in peeling back the skimpy veneer of politically correct propaganda. Revealing a dark reality most are too oblivious to accept or too blind to care about whilst their daily regime of government dictated demographics applies. Conformity is the concessionary sheep that never recognises the wolf never far from the door, until it comes calling one day, and suddenly the flock you believed you were a part of is really just a designer label waiting to drape your carcass upon the ever growing mountain of forgotten fools to feed its insatiable appetite.

Rampage then is an almost documentary styled low budget movie that dares to send a statement of intent to those that will watch and listen to its indelible message. As a young angry man one morning, just after breakfast, calmly sees his mother and father off to work, then sets about his day of hard labour. A day of unabated slaughter, without prejudice, as all who stray into his path are met with a barrage of bullets or the cold blade of a knife.

The sight of a composed, yet focused killer, decked out in a home made mail order body parts protection kit, assembled by this angry young man with a real flair for mechanics, is what sets the movie up on its attention seeking radar. Bill Williamson turns from the innocuous guy next door into a pocket battle wagon of lightweight armour plated, Teflon treated tenacity, in his Kevlar full body suit and head gear that makes for one angry looking storm trooper on a mission of intent !.
Striding through the main street of his small town shopping precinct he unleashes his frustration and anger upon all before him in calculated cold blood. You feel his torment and embrace his turmoil, as many of his victims portray their true vanities and evident shortcomings deserving of a wake up call. This is however the extreme take on one person going too far to make a point, but when those that we entrust to keep order and imbue hope and equality fail to do as they are empowered by the people, for the people, when is enough really enough !?.

A damning indictment on society the world over, this is a poignant slice of pulp picture making that will barely make a ripple upon the cinema scene, but do not at all expect its message to simply blip beneath the ocean of film it swims with, for if it does we may all be lost. Rampage is a powder keg of insightful controversy that entertains at an adults only level but sends a message that perhaps only the youth of today can comprehend, and ultimately do something about.

Producer, writer, Director Boll is currently on his own exciting Rampage, and with this latest competent piece of film making he is the unstoppable Ro‘Boll’Cop.

Movie Rating: 6/10

Review Paul Cooke / Source PAL Region 2 DVD

Rampage (2009)
Director Uwe Boll
With Brendan Fletcher, Shaun Sipos,
Michael Paré, Matt Frewer,
Lynda Boyd & Robert Clarke

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Valentín Day ... Trujillo Style

Ratas De La Ciudad
aka City Rats

‘‘How much do I owe you for stealing all my money !?’’

The night belongs to the City Rats, a rag tag gang of children hungry to survive and willing to kill in order to feed themselves. Street kids organised into a force that can easily overpower those straying from the crowds into the darker recesses of a city plagued by baby faced rats, with teeth and nails as ferociously adept as their vermin counterparts. Switchblades and metal bars are their claws, applied with lethal deftness upon their adult victims. Selecting their prey and cleverly picking off wayward adults, often in brutal and bloody fashion !. They refer to their victims as Customers, and payment is exacted in cold, calculated violence.

Family man Pedro arrives in town by communal bus with his young son. Valentin Trujillo is Pedro, a physical education teacher looking for a job to help him and his son lay down roots for a regular way of life. Tragedy soon strikes as a day at a fun park sees Pedro helpless but to be just a witness to his son being mown down by a runaway car. The vehicle is driven by a drink driver, who careens into the young boy and crushes his leg under wheel. The occupant of the car is a well known special street cop, with authority and powers above the regular police. An untouchable who walks away blameless and guiltless for his callous actions. Pedro seeks justice and strikes out at the police officer, only to have the full force of the twisted law thrown at him. He soon finds himself behind bars and is beaten by the offending officer for his righteous indiscretion against tyranny. In a world of hurt, with a bent lawyer taking him for every last meagre dollar that he has, Pedro is imprisoned with a sentence of eight months slapped upon him. With no money to pay towards his sons medical care junior Pedro is lost in the system and finds himself wandering the streets. Crippled in one leg and wearing a calliper to aid in walking the boy is befriended by one of the street urchins.
Pedro must find a way to earn money in order to buy himself out of detention, but soon discovers that just surviving will cost him more than he reckoned on. He forms a friendship with a fellow inmate who just so happens to be an honest cop, fallen fowl of the corrupt system and doing time himself. Carlos is a good man in a bad deal and the inmates want him dead, likely with a price on his head from those outside of the confines of the prison walls. Pedro steps in to help Carlos fight his way out of a violent situation, one that ends in a bloody pulp for those who dared to assault Carlos when unawares. Carlos takes Pedro under his wing and toughens him up, teaching him the ways of the law as he interprets it and bulking him up to fend for himself.

The corrupt system keeps Pedro incarcerated for five long years, all the while his son believes that his father has abandoned him and has become an integral part of the City Rats. An angry young man, forced to fend for himself and forge a beneficial friendship with the street gang. An inner anger keeps him alive, one shared by his missing father Pedro for altogether different reasons other than the binding one of survival !.
Released from prison Pedro is met on the outside by the earlier released Carlos. Their bond of friendship transgresses their common bond within the confines of the state rehabilitation facility, and Carlos offers Pedro the opportunity to join him as a special law enforcement officer. Before he accepts his friends invitation Pedro has the first of two personal vendettas to follow up. He pays a visit to his slovenly lawyer and unleashes his now highly trained fists upon him, pummelling the fat accumulated from the feasting off the poor. Beating him within an inch of his life Carlos points out to him that he now has a life changing decision to make, leave the repugnant legal leech to send him back inside or finish the job, and walk away using the same legal rights of passage to protect him that he has thus far fallen foul of. In a moment of pure politically incorrect goodness Pedro enacts what any righteous man pushed to the very edge would like to do when unrestrained, he chooses to leave a life of society servitude behind and take control of his own destiny. Carlos gives him a helping hand and the push that the lawyer needs to seal the deal. In a moment of jaw dropping, eye popping, viewer stunned disbelief Carlos throws the bloated lawyer out of his multi storey high rise window. He hit’s the street below and is instantaneously killed, no closing speech and the only jury interested look down upon him from above, verdict Guilty !.

Carlos convinces his boss that Pedro is qualified to join him in the street force and soon Trujillo is stepping up to the plate once more as the Mexican Charles Bronson, serving up hard knuckled justice backed up by a side arm who’s bullets know their destination from the moment they leave the chamber. What Pedro does not expect is to come face to face with the cop who crippled his son in his own force. Carlos has to keep the two warring men apart, but Pedro has a score to settle.
Using his new found position as a street cop Pedro uses every spare moment he has to seek out his son. With an old picture and street savvy he relentlessly pieces together every item of information, no matter how small, to formulate what has happened over the last five years and is hopeful that somewhere his son is still within the city.
The movie jumps about quite a bit and throws up some insane Action completely out of the blue, but with very welcome absurdity nonetheless. A terrorist attack upon a residential mansion calls for Carlos and Pedro to don the anti terrorist gear and throw themselves into the heart of the gun siege !. A blistering assault upon the property follows as the two hard hitting honchos strike a blow against terrorism on a grand scale. Grenades explode all around as helicopters hover overhead, witnessing the blood bath of gory gun battle play out below. It’s all done with moments in glorious slow motion kill the terrorist mode, with a salacious disregard to read ‘em their rights first !. A big, bold, ballistic blast plays out in true old school Eighties Action, and the devastation left in our guys wake is like a tornado freed from a microwave. City Rats is a Mexican magnum primed to blow its audience away, and it does it magnificently.
The cops world of course collides with the City Rats, and Pedro gets an opportunity to be reunited with his estranged son, but there are other forces at play and this is far from being anything near a happy Hollywood ending. The budget may be tight but the production is as bold as brass and when cutting to the Action it’s the ‘scythe’ that matters, and without question City Rats is El Gigante.

Movie Rating: 7/10
Review Paul Cooke / Source PAL VHS
City Rats (1986)
Director Valentín Trujillo
With Valentín Trujillo,
Rodolfo de Anda, Angelica Chain,
Roberto Guzman & Isaura Espinoza